QUEENS Park Rangers were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup as a second string side fell to the buoyant League One Milton Keynes Dons.
Having a goal disallowed early on for offside, QPR were caught cold when Dean Lewington somehow got a fortunate flick on from a first half corner to open the scoring.
Anton Ferdinand’s howler helped MK Dons add a second, when he let a routine long ball drift over his head as Ryan Lowe scampered in behind to double the visitor’s tally.
Whatever was said at half time did not work an iota with Lowe once again a beneficiary, drifting in behind to square for an entirely unmarked Ryan Harley to put the Dons three goals to the good.
A fourth was also forthcoming when former Manchester United player Alan Smith won a game of pinball in the area to tee up Darren Potter for the Dons’ fourth and compound the misery.
Rangers reduced the arrears after Park Ji Sung was hounded from the field and Jay Bothroyd squeezed a header home while Fabio’s effort was deflected into the net to merely halve the arrears in a damning performance and result for the club.
Harry Redknapp made nine changes from the side that drew at West Ham United. Julio Cesar, Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen, Shaun Derry, Stephane Mbia, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy all dropping out – Fabio da Silva and Jamie Mackie the only survivors.
Rob Green started behind a defence of Fabio, Anton Ferdinand, Tal Ben Haim and Armand Traoré. The midfield comprised of Mackie, Alejandro Faurlín, Esteban Granero and Park Ji Sung with Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell starting in attack.
MK Dons started with David Martin behind a defence of John Otsemobor, Gary MacKenzie, Antony Kay and Dean Lewington. The midfield comprised of Adam Chicksen, Shaun Williams, Darren Potter and Alan Smith with Ryan Lowe and Dean Bowditch starting in attack.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v MILTON KEYNES DONS
A good crowd populated Loftus Road for this Fourth Round FA Cup tie, bolstered by the biggest travelling support in Milton Keynes’ brief history. Partially to do with reduced ticket costs and partially the expectation an intrigue in playing a League One side.
It would be fair to say that given Harry Redknapp’s stark and honest view of his expectations to the game, to the point of being brazen, that QPR would look to put the game to bed as soon as possible. The sprightly DJ Campbell doing his best early on to take on that mantra.
Useful work from strike partner Jay Bothroyd laid on an opportunity for the self professed QPR supporter who duly dispatched with aplomb. Unfortunately for him and the home side, he was a yard offside when placing beyond David Martin.
While the home side were dictating the flow, the visitors from Milton Keynes were certainly breaking with vigour. Forcing a corner on the right hand side, the managed to engineer one of the more innocuous goals seen at the Loftus Road end for many a year.
Shaun Williams’ near post corner saw Armand Traoré and DEAN LEWINGTON attack the ball at the near post. The ball skipped up off the pair and beat Rob Green at his near post, with Lewington having little idea that he had handed the visitors the advantage.
Ryan Lowe’s speculative drive from distance failed to trouble Green as much as the initial effort as a period of play for QPR ensued as they search for the equaliser. Fabio put an effort wide of the mark while Traoré looked to make amends with a series of powerful runs.
A centre from the Senegalese international evaded everyone after a surging run from defence while a powderpuff effort from the hapless Park Ji Sung failed to cause defenders to break sweat – it was looking positive if a little without an end product for the hosts.
Campbell then tried his luck with an effort that fairly deflected into the arms of Martin once more as the visitors were forced to withdraw man-mountain defender Gary MacKenzie with a hamstring injury, with Ryan Harley coming on in his stead.
The two side traded blows from distance with Campbell and Bothroyd trying their luck with little substance, while Bowditch shot wide of the target from distance for the visiting side. While their threat was fleeting, it was nevertheless evident.
Tal Ben Haim sent a useful header straight into the arms of the grateful and rooted Martin. Mackie had a better chance still moments later when he was slipped through delightfully by Bothroyd only to see his effort well blocked by Martin in a 50/50 challenge.
Just when matters were looking more positive, the hosts were undone by a goal of sheer simplicity. Former Liverpool trainee Otsemobor launched a hopeful ball over the top for Lowe to chase.
The ball was completely misjudged by the ponderous Anton Ferdinand and drifted over the defender without so much of a whimper before RYAN LOWE cantered in behind and rolled past the onrushing Green with consummate ease.
A hammer blow before half time as Ferdinand showed not for the first time this season that his mind was not on the occasion. Home supporters responded with a cavalcade of boos, not the best time to underperform against League One opposition in front of a big crowd.
Bothroyd’s header from a Granero corner was the final effort of an utterly forgettable half from a home perspective. No quarter was given by the home supporters who vented their frustrations at a side that looked sub parity throughout the first half.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-2 MILTON KEYNES DONS
No doubt coming out with a flea in their ear in the second half, the home team set about their task with what had become attacking but tentative football, unable to scythe open a strong MK Dons defensive line, that was holding firm in the face of the home side.
A goal did arrive moments later, but it was the visitors who grabbed it with a well worked counter-attacking move. Lowe once again played key tormentor when he evaded any semblance of an offside trap to maraud down the right.
Keeping his touch in play he picked out the starkly unmarked defender RYAN HARLEY who tapped home beyond Green from the cutback to spark anger coming down from the stands, but delirium in a buoyant School End.
Adam Chicksen nearly added insult to injury when he raced away down the left hand side, but his resultant shot belied the build up, firing beyond the side netting to Rob Green’s left-hand upright. Worrying signs indeed for a home side flagging.
Alejandro Faurlín buried a strike straight into the arms of Martin before the Dons had their fourth just minutes later, in another nightmare defensive for Queens Park Rangers, clearly missing the guidance of Ryan Nelsen and the stout defensive nature of Clint Hill.
Harley – at the centre of everything for Milton Keynes despite his defensive duties – sent in a fine set-piece that sparked some calamitous defending, culminating in Smith being handed the ball on the edge of the area he picked out DARREN POTTER who dispatched with effortless ease beyond a furious Green.
Park Ji Sung was replaced after the hour mark after what was an extremely poor performance in this fixture, rather the culmination in a string of poor displays from the South Korean. Tee is a very real difference between running around and fighting for the cause, the midfielder has sadly not mastered the latter in a limp, lifeless and ultimately poor display.
He was replaced by Bobby Zamora, a man who Harry has pinned some hopes on to partner Loic Remy. He and Bothroyd linked up to forge a useful partnership and set QPR on their way and moreover put some pressure on Milton Keynes.
Dean Bowditch did have the next clear cut opportunity of the fixture however, and but for a fine save from Green, it could have been five. He ran at the defence and caused the desperate Ferdinand to fall on his backside and allow him through on goal – his shot was well-fielded to Green’s left.
Rangers started to pepper the visitors goal, with Faurlín twice chancing his arm, one blocked and one fielded by the ‘keeper, before Mackie also saw an effort blocked away. QPR had their goal when a deep cross found Zamora who nodded down for JAY BOTHROYD to nod beyond Martin.
With seven minutes to go there was little hope of a revival to the extend that was required, but nevertheless the home side persisted, demanded by a home crowd virtually baying for blood at some points in the second period.
Green once again proved himself able by blocking another Chicksen run and shot from close range, and at the other end Zamora should have done better when fine work from Bothroyd saw him chip the ball in his partner’s direction – Zamora sliced his volley wide of the mark.
Bothroyd was the guilty party moments later when his sublime touched was not matched by a wayward strike on his weaker foot to see the ball disappear into the disappointed supporters. Not to detract from Bothroyd who is one of the few who could come out with credit.
A second did eventually come for QPR, with a deep cross from the left by Traoré falling well for FABIO DA SILVA to strike first time. It looked to have been cleared off the line only for the defender to slice his clearance in off the cross bar.
Mackie had an opportunity to make it three with his typical all-action style earning a run through on goal, only to be denied once more by stout MK Dons defending as the League One deserved deserved their place in the Fifth Round on effort alone.
Redknapp will undoubtedly ring the changes for the Manchester City game, but if he was wondering how his back up XI would fare, this was a fairly stark indication of what lurks behind the first choice set-up.
FINAL WHISTLE: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 2-4 MILTON KEYNES DONS